September 7, 2022 By Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) experts are lending their expertise to a new initiative focused on improving food security in British Columbia (B.C.) and around the world.
The B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation will bring together academia, government and industry partners to create more productive, diverse and resilient food-supply chains. While the centre will be located at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, it will use the skills of experts from several post-secondary institutions, including KPU.
The provincial government is committing $6.5 million over three years to the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation, and the federal government is providing as much as $10 million over five years through Pacific Economic Development Canada. Although the centre is scheduled to open in September, it has already begun taking applications from small and medium-sized agriculture technology businesses throughout the province. The centre will focus on developing, testing and piloting solutions in simulated and real-world environments to be farm-ready for commercialization.
One project KPU is moving forward through the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation is with Aeroroot Systems, a Surrey-based startup company that commercializes sustainable agriculture through growing systems and passive greenhouses. The KPU team will be optimizing growing methods of basil through aeroponics – the process of growing plants in an air-based system – while developing solutions to combat potential pests and diseases.
Agricultural innovation is a key focus of the KPU Applied Genomics Centre, a lab based at the university’s Surrey campus that creates research opportunities for students in health science, biology and horticulture.
“Our focus is using genomics – the infrastructure, the people, the expertise that we have – to support the agriculture industry,” says Dr. Paul Adams, director of the KPU Applied Genomics Centre and a faculty member in the Biology Department at KPU. “There are many farmers interested in adopting new technologies to make their work more efficient, to make their products better and more sustainable.”
Adams says the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation will provide another source of funding to engage in applied research with industry partners.
“It’s also a networking opportunity,” he adds. “They are building a network with various industries and academic partners and trying to connect those people.”
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